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Newtownabbey man who stole £50,000 from his ‘grandfather figure’ neighbour receives 14-month sentence

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Jason Sharma appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a video-link with Maghaberry Prison

Jason Sharma appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a video-link with Maghaberry Prison

Jason Sharma appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a video-link with Maghaberry Prison

A 20-year-old man who stole more than £50,000 from an elderly neighbour who regarded him as a “grandson” was handed a 14-month sentence today.

Jason Sharma, from Glebe Manor in Newtownabbey, admitted two offences against the 73-year old victim, namely fraud by false representation and acquiring criminal property between July 1, 2019, and May 5, 2020.

Sharma appeared at Belfast Crown Court via a video-link with Maghaberry Prison, where Mr Justice Fowler imposed the sentence, which was divided equally between prison and supervised licence.

It was revealed the victim was a reclusive man, with no family, who rarely left his house.

He befriended the Sharma family — who moved to Northern Ireland from India — before the defendant was born and over the years he became a close family friend, to the point where he was considered as a “grandfather figure” by Sharma.

The pensioner became housebound and depended on others during the pandemic, and when police called at his home due to suspected fraud regarding this bank accounts on May 4, 2020, they found him dishevelled, painfully thin and wearing dirty clothes.

His home was also unclean and police were so concerned that they contacted social services.

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The police visit was prompted when the pensioner’s bank contacted the PSNI regarding suspicions that his account was being used to make irregular payments.

During that visit, the pensioner told police he believed his “grandson” Jason Sharma was responsible, as he had access to his bank accounts.

He also told officers Sharma, who was 18 at the time, had persuaded him to become involved in currency trading.

Following the investigation, it emerged that Sharma took £38,380 from the pensioner’s bank accounts and also acquired criminal property in the form of £16,670 which belonged to the victim.

As well as using money for unsuccessful currency trading, Sharma also made multiple cash withdrawals at ATMs, bought clothes online and transferred money from the pensioner’s account into his own.

As part of the police probe, officers examined Sharma’s phone and located images of the pensioner’s bank cards along with bank statements and his electoral identity card.

Sharma was arrested and accepted he had access to the accounts and had used them for his own benefit.

Whilst none of the money has been paid back, Sharma raised £3,805, which will be paid to the pensioner via a Compensation Order.

Describing the pensioner as “vulnerable”, Mr Justice Fowler revealed that, in a victim impact statement, he expressed his disappointment and upset at the actions of a young man he regarded as his “grandson”.

The judge said: “It is clear from the statement that the injured party was pressurised into giving financial details to the defendant and as a result his vulnerabilities were exploited by Jason Sharma."

Regarding Sharma, Mr Justice Fowler said he accepted his immaturity at the time of offending, his lack of previous offending and the efforts made to raise funds to be paid back to the victim.

This amount, the judge said, “pales into insignificance in relation to the sum lost”.

As he jailed Sharma, Mr Justice Fowler said: “This involved a series of frauds over a ten-month period. They were conducted against an extremely vulnerable, elderly man with mental health problems.

“The conditions he was living in would have been obvious to anyone, in particular the defendant, who took on the mantel of grandson, and yet he perpetrated this fraud against the victim without pity or remorse.”


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